Tag Archives: mini

Chocolate Cupcakes and Cream Cheese Frosting

For Christmas, I was going to make the kids in my life crayons out of the letters of their names.  I purchased what I thought was an oven-ready mold, but when it arrived it was a tiny, plastic, chocolate mold.  My mistake, but rather than resell it I thought I would utilize the chocolate mold by making alphabet suckers in primary colors for Tommy’s 1st birthday party.

 

After a series of unfortunate events, such as me forgetting to spray the mold before placing what turned out to be too soft of chocolate in, I pushed my hand through the plastic breaking the alphabet into an uneven half. (Don’t worry, I’ll spare you the bloody picture). But, I was still able to utilize the yellow melted chocolate on top of the cupcake frosting.

To make the cupcakes:

To make the frosting:

  • 1/4 cup cream cheese
  • 1 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. butter, softened
  • 2 Tbsp. whole milk
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/4 fresh juice from lemon
  • Food coloring

To make the chocolate:

  • 1/4 bag white chocolate chips (a pricier brand, like Ghirardelli, will taste best)
  • 1 Tbsp. whole milk
  • Food coloring

Start by making the cake.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  In a mixing bowl, blend together cake mix, almond extract, oil, water, and eggs using an electric hand mixer.  Whirl around until smooth, approximately 2 minutes. Add in the chocolate chips and fold over with a spoon until they are well dispersed into the batter.

I chose to make mini cupcakes with mini, white paper cups.  If you are cooking these for yourself, you can eliminate the paper cups by spraying or Criscoing the muffin tin.  Fill each cup about 3/4 from the top. They will rise in the oven.

Place the pan in the oven and cook for 15-20 minutes. To check if they are ready, simply stick a wooden toothpick in the center of a cupcake. If it comes out clean, they are done. If it has batter on it, they need more time in the oven.

In the meantime, you can start the frosting. With a clean electric hand mixer and bowl, combine together the cream cheese, lemon juice, whole milk, vanilla, butter and 1/2 cup of the powdered sugar. 

 Blend on medium speed until smooth, approximately 3-5 minutes, slowly adding in more powdered sugar, section by section, until you’ve used 1 1/2 cups (more if you like it a little stiffer for accurate piping, less if you like your frosting on the soft side). 

Finally, add in your favorite food coloring color (or multiple to make such colors as purple or orange).  I chose blue, using maybe 20 drops for a deeper hue.

Now is a good time to make the chocolate letters.  To make a double boiler, simply add in an inch of water to a large pan. Bring the water to a boil and place a smaller pan filled with your chocolate ingredients on the inside. Again, pick your favorite color to dye the white chocolate chips. Stir constantly, until the chocolate is melted enough to spread.  This method is a fool-proof way of not burning the chocolate. 

On parchment paper, create your letters by hand using a toothpick or small spoon.  Stick the parchment paper into the freezer for 10-15 minutes.

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When your cupcakes are cool, frost them using a spoon, piping bag, or, like me, a cookie press that also serves as a frosting gun.

Pull the chocolate letters out and immediately peel them from the paper. If you take too long, stick them back in the freezer for 5 minutes and finish the remaining letters then stick them into your frosted cupcakes. 

Though my friend was excited for chocolate suckers, as someone else also brought cupcakes to the party, these minis were delicious and easy to pop in your mouth without feeling guilty after a high-fat, filling dinner of Portillo’s Beef Sandwiches.  I personally enjoy minis because they not only look cute; you feel you can eat more because of the size. This isn’t necessarily true, but comforting during the process.

The addition of lemon and vanilla into the cream cheese frosting was my personal favorite.  It was subtle, not overwhelming, but noticeably different in comparison to previous cream cheese frosting recipes.  The almond extract in the chocolate was almost invisible, so feel free to add in another teaspoon, but the chocolate chips definitely initiated a heavier cupcake.  They melted leaving little pockets of condensed, smooth chocolate.  Finally, the chocolate letters were a fun addition, clearly stating the purpose of the cupcakes (“Happy 1st Birthday Tommy”), that people could take off and eat.  Next time I will arrange to take more time on this part so each letter is consistent and easy to read.

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Bite-Sized

My mom decided we would have a finger food party. Everyone came over with their ingredients for an easy-to-eat treat and gathered in the kitchen to cook. It actually worked out nicely with everyone’s food finishing at about the same time in our small-ish kitchen.

Last weekend, my mom had friends over and made pizza. While they were at church she asked me to make the crust in the bread maker and I accidentally made pie crust dough. So I decided the best thing would to be to use the pie crust dough I had thrown in the freezer. Personally, I am not a huge pie fan. I like to dip my fork in someone’s to taste it, and then I am done. So why not make mini pies? Not Martha had a great example to go off of.

The pie crust only took 10 minutes in the bread maker. Very easy, and not a sticky dough. I rolled it out and used a circular egg form to cut circles in the dough. These circles were then rolled out thinner to stretch and cover the inside of each cup in a muffin tin.

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I chose to just add pie filling, but making your own would work too.

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Then I cut more circles with decorative holes for air and covered several of the pies. Trial and error shows this method to actually burst open when the pie filling bubbles in the oven, and your best bet is to make sure these are well secured to the pie bottoms.  On the others I cut strips of dough and crisscrossed them across the top leaving more room for the bubbling filling to release and a rugged look.

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A store-bought pie crust would take less time to cook, but I put mine in at 400 (probably 375 in most ovens as ours isn’t the strongest) for 30 min. On the day of the party, I sprinkled some sugar on top and threw these delights in the oven for another ten minutes to warm them.

When I finished I had left over dough, so I decided to make even smaller pies. Bite-sized. Same technique in the mini muffin pan. These were absolutely delightful and the perfect bit of flavor.

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My other contribution to the party was the drinks. I put together a homemade lemonade, squeezing a lemon and half a lime in each container, added some lemon juice from a bottle, some sugar and water, half a lemon and lime in whole slices in each jar, and a splash of grenadine to make it pink in color. I put it in large mason jars, and on the day of the party put it out with pomegranate vodka. This way the underagers and drivers could choose to have a non-alcoholic version.
Sidenote: the pomegranate vodka was also fabulous with the limited time diet pomegranate 7-up especially because the aspartame in diet pop lessens the alcohol flavor.

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